Zenernet Blog

Your source for solar news and education

The evolution of solar energy

Posted by Zenernet on October 27, 2020 at 10:19 AM

Solar power has been around forever - but it's only recently that we've made serious strides in harnessing its potential. Here's a timeline of humanity's journey to understand and work with the power of the sun. 


Solar technology emerges (700 B.C. - 1905)



700 B.C. : First known instance of people using glass to light fires 

 1830: Photovoltaic (PV) Effect observed for the first time


 1888: Edward Weston patents first solar cell



 1905: Einstein explains the PV Effect 



Solar technology is developed and refined (1954-1992)

1954: Bell Labs produce the first solar cells for use in space. They produced at 6% efficiency, meaning that 6% of the solar energy that hit the panel was harnessed as usable power.





1960: Hoffman electronics creates 10% efficient cell, significantly improving the amount of usable energy. 
  1962: Telstar-1, an early commercial satellite powered by solar cells, is     launched. Telstar-1 relayed the first television pictures, telephone calls, and telegram images transmitted through space. 





  1978: Solar-powered calculators go on sale 
 1979: President Carter installs solar panels on the White House 
1981: President Reagan orders solar panels removed 
1985: 20% efficient cells created at University of New South Wales



1991: President George W. Bush creates the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to research solar and other renewable energy technologies. 



1992: First rooftop, grid-connected system installed in Sacramento



Solar hits its stride (2000-2016)

2000: Widespread shortages in electric supply led to rolling blackouts across the state of California, spurring demand for alternatives to grid energy. 
2004: California Governor Schwarzenegger calls for 1 million solar rooftops by 2017, signing the Million Solar Roofs Initiative in an effort to subsidize the lagging generational capacity of the grid system and transition the state to more sustainable forms of energy production. 
2006: CPUC creates the California Solar Incentive Program to make solar power more accessible to homeowners and businesses. More than $2.1 billion was given out in incentives.  
2007: University of Delaware achieves a new efficiency record with a 43% efficient solar cell. 
2009: SolarCity releases a solar lease option for no money down. This was a major innovation because it allowed homeowners to switch to solar and save money right away. 
2013: President Obama brings solar PV back to White House. He became the second elected official to live in the White House when it was powered by solar. 
2015-2016: US Solar installations doubled year over year, including a record year of 95% growth in 2016. 


Solar power has come a long way in recent years, but the most impressive developments are yet to come. As efficiency improves and the industry continues to drive costs further and further down, we'll see greater adoption of solar technology. Our mission at Zenernet is just that - to Accelerate Energy Independence for All by making the power of the sun more accessible and usable for people across the country and the world. 


Topics: Insider

Leave Comment